Contemporary British fiction?

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Contemporary British fiction?

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Redigeret: maj 4, 2007, 9:59pm

Many thanks to Bookbox for inviting me to this group! I was surprised to receive your message as I am not aware of a particular predilection for British writers although I do seem to read a fair few - probably not more than the average reader though. While I thoroughly enjoy the British "classics" or, I suppose, almost anything pre-1940ish, I am often left disappointed by contemporary British novels. For modern fiction I have found Latin American writers to be more consistently satisfying, and often extraordinary. I have also been pleasantly surprised by Indian authors, Canadians and immigrants / ex-pats of all kinds as well as a lot of literature in translation. I would like to read more recent British literature, particularly as one of my main sources of English reading matter at the moment is the British Council library at home in Caracas. Twenty years ago the library was well-stocked with British literature, from classics to poetry volumes, and was a pleasure to browse, but these days its stock is reduced to a few score of largely contemporary writers, many of whom I am unfamiliar with. So the purpose of this post is to ask which contemporary works (novels or short stories) members might recommend and why. Perhaps suggestions might be of use to others too. Amongst the newer British writers I have enjoyed are: Iain Banks (enjoyed his first several novels in the 1980s, but not sure I would want to read more recent ones - or would I?), Jane Gardam, Alex Garland (The Beach), Alasdair Gray (found Lanark exceptionally good, but others uneven), Mark Haddon (impressed by The curious incident of the dog in the night-time), Kazuo Ishiguro (stumbled upon him by chance 15 years ago and read most of his novels, finally realising he was English several years later!), Hanif Kureishi (The Buddha of Suburbia & The Black Album, but have not really enjoyed others), Ian McEwan, Graham Swift, Irving Welsh (Trainspotting, Filth, Marabou Stork Mightmares). I would appreciate any leads... many thanks, Chris. P.S. I have checked the other threads for names of authors, but any suggestions for particular books would be very welcome.

Redigeret: maj 5, 2007, 8:22am

Hello cjsccs - welcome to the group! One suggestion if you like Irvine Welsh would be Niall Griffiths - he has a similar gritty, urban style and is quite a rising star. Titles include Runt, Stump and Bring It Back Home

maj 5, 2007, 9:40am

Contemporary british fiction doesn't get any better than David Mitchell. I actually think someone should notify mensa, the guy is a genius!!
Cloud Atlas would be a good place to start, then Ghostwritten, then Black Swan Green.
Let me know what you think.

maj 5, 2007, 10:36am

Kazuo Ishiguro is absolutely my favorite contemporary writer. I wished The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go could've lasted forever. I didn't think An Artist of the Floating World was as good as his others, but even so, I closed that book feeling I had a lot to think about.

I just started the Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish in Cloud Atlas. I'm hoping it doesn't turn out to be one of those books that's so hyped by everyone that I end up disappointed. It's not bad so far, but I keep expecting to find literary brilliance on the next page and it's not there yet.

maj 6, 2007, 9:07pm

I find out about new writers by reading Granta -a journal that comes out about four times a year.

maj 8, 2007, 1:19pm

Have a look out for Small Island by Andrea Levy which won three major literary prizes in the UK - the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Commonwealth Writer’s prize.

7jennyo Første besked:
Redigeret: maj 8, 2007, 1:25pm

I definitely agree with the David Mitchell recommendation and would also suggest Jonathan Coe and Kate Atkinson.

maj 9, 2007, 1:14pm

Music and Silence by Rose Tremain is a favourite of mine. Recently read The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks. It was pretty good but I couldn't attach emotionally to it.

LOVED Arthur and George by Julian Barnes.

maj 9, 2007, 1:38pm

I appreciate all the suggestions! I know Small Island by Andrea Levy is in the British Council library here, so I will read it and give some feedback. There are a couple of Granta numbers too, but I've already read them. The other recommendations I will hopefully be able to find on my travels.

As I mentioned, I have not read much recent British fiction that I might suggest in return. However, still within the umbrella of British fiction, I might wholeheartedly recommend one older British novel that I stumbled on by chance in the late 1990s and which proved a revelation - a book that ranks among the best I have read. It is A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys. I happened to read an article about it in the Daily Telegraph by Margaret Drabble who chose it as her "Book of the Century", calling it a "masterpiece" and its author "a genius". Bizarrely, the book was out of print in the UK, but still published in the States. The book is over 1000 pages long and I would not read it for the plot so much as to revel in the amazingly evocative descriptions, particularly of nature. Thanks again, and happy reading!

maj 9, 2007, 10:18pm

>9 chrisharpe:
Curious you mention Powys. I just (yesterday) finished his 800 page Owen Glendower, which is a fine historical novel, heavy on the novel part when it comes to developing characters. As you mentioned about A Glastonbury Romance, his evocative descriptions of place, combined with captivating character development kept me 'on task' with this tome. Glendower's story is really a good one, especially when expanded by Powys. The most difficult thing is keeping track of the many characters and their (often multiple) Welsh names.

When I'm ready to take on another 1,000 pages of Powys, I'll track down a copy of 'Glastonbury'